Insights into The Alexander Technique from Michael Frederick, senior teacher in California

chocolate cake and sweets

By Ellen Bierhorst ~

Recently, I was telling my local colleagues about Michael Frederick’s explanation of the Technique.  One of those colleagues wrote this morning and asked me to repeat it in writing because she felt it very important.  This is what I wrote:

People think it is about posture or pain relief or stress management or moving better/performing better.  It’s not…these are only results that occur when one becomes more mindful from an Alexander perspective.

People further think it is about that wonderful feeling we get from the hands of the teacher, the “Ahhhhha,” the “A-Zone” as I call it.

But that is a trap.  Not it . . .

[And Michael added this: “This is correct, but none of us would study the Alexander Technique if we didn’t feel better afterwards. So there is a fine line between “feeling better” which is okay and makes sense.  It only becomes “a trap” when we try and re-creat the “good feelings” instead of recreating the “delicate movement” into length that allows the feeling of lightness and length to be there.  You can’t feel a movement until you move.”]

FM said repeatedly that what it is at core is:

  1. Noticing the stimulus that is setting you wrong (without criticism)
  2. Stopping our habitual knee jerk reaction. Thus creating space between the stimulus and your response.
  3. Coming back to yourself by relaxing into direction…lengthening and widening allowing our head to lead and whole body to follow.
  4. Then making a choice either to:
    • a) Do what you originally intended to do in the first place (this time with better use)
    • b) Chose to do something completely different   or
    • c) Chose to do nothing at all. (Our choices open up the moment conscious inhibition occurs.)

For instance, the chocolate cake.  I just had my first piece of Chocolate Cake, however I feel that “maybe I’ll have a second piece…it was soooo good.”   But also I feel I must not eat more as I’ve already had enough with one piece.  I still want it.  This is an inner conflict between what is happening and what I think/feel should be happening.  That’s the stimulus that is setting me wrong. However by noticing that I am in conflict, I can stop and come back to myself.  I direct my neck to be free, my head to move forward and up with my whole body following etc..  As I enter this ‘directed’ state of inner physical expansion, my blood is better oxygenated, my organs function better having more room, my nervous system works better, so my thoughts and my emotions clear and settle.  Now I can see clearly, I can make a real decision… to eat the cake, to not eat the cake, to do something else, because I now can see that although it would taste good, really my body doesn’t actually want the added sugar, it wouldn’t feel good…


Insights into The Alexander Technique from Michael Frederick, senior teacher in California — 1 Comment

  1. Ellen! thank you for the cake example of how inhibition works…..a day of easeful moving to you, Diana McC.